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This week I’m presenting two videos featuring music by Jon Hopkins, one of my favourite electronic music producers.

First up is Open Eye Signal, directed by Aoife McArdle. Before even seeing the video, I was a big fan of the song as it brought to mind a vibe similar to Hold Tight London by The Chemical Brothers; combining a rolling beat, hope and movement. The video cleverly incorporates freedom in a total sense, that of running away from the past; negative, and towards the future; the hopeful. There isn’t one without the other, it tells us.

The boy, bruised, bitter and fleeing from an unnamed threat, moves through contrasting sweeps of open landscapes and closed suburbia, differing climates and varying degrees of wealth. The expert use of  focal depth and color tone (signature features of McArdle’s work) highlights and obscures aspects of the journey he takes. Bruises heal, peace rises, the playfulness and joy in him develops, fears lessen; all to the melodic and meditative pulse.

Directed by Aoife McArdle

Released: 2013

Links: aoifemcardle.com

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Nigel Stanford’s latest track, filmed by Shahir Daud, is an astounding experiment in sound and music, a process named ‘cymatics’, using speakers and amplifiers to generate a visual representation of sound. Water, grains of salt and even fire-jets twist and distort to the varying air-pressures.

Daud chose to film this in industrial tones of grey and black, using stripped construction concrete and sharp fluorescent lighting  as the backdrop. Standford’s presence is duplicated in similar tones, anonymous behind his instruments, combining himself with them as fused mechanisms of music, science and biology.

The message is powerful: music, even in group settings, is seen as relativistic experience, yet by showing us the effect of the same expression on physical objects rather than humans, and sinking the creator himself into the background, we see the natural world isolated, emphasized and rediscovered as the arbiter of human experience. We have sent out probes into the universe as carriers of music and frequency to express human kind to the heavens and Stanford and Daud show a simulacrum of this in a combinatorial depiction of the mechanistic, the electronic and the elemental.

Directed by: Shahir Daud

Released: 2014

Links:

ShahirDaud.com

NigelStanford.com/Solar_Echoes

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She may contain the urge to run away
But hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocks
Germolene, disinfect the scene
My love, my love, love, love
But please don’t go, I love you so, my lovely

It’s hard to watch Breezeblocks, music video to Alt-J’s dark melody and not think in stylistic terms of Nolan’s Memento, or even Noe’s Irreversible, a disturbing gradually unfolding hostage story that leaves us doubting who exactly is originator of the crimes.

A tale of domestic violence, possession and obsessive affection, Bahl makes strong use of macro shots, bleak tones and common household themes. Whereas Wolfe’s Take Me To Church uses suburban normality as a contrast to the underlying violence, this film uses the metropolitan apartment, the place next door to add tension and immediacy, with hip, trendy characters and fashionable minimalist decor. The finished product is one that leaves the viewer uneasy for a long time afterwards. A deserving winner of the UK Music Video Award for “Best Alternative Video” in 2012.

 

 

Directed by: Ellis Bahl

Released: 2012

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More music videos, and here we have Time to Dance by The Shoes, starring the wonderfully strange eyes of Jake Gyllenhaal.

 

What does it say about this critic when the most disturbing part of this film to me was where our killer attempts to dance, and not the preceding murders. Another great piece by Daniel Wolfe and fantastic acting by Mr Gyllenhaal – one of his finest moments yet, in my opinion.

 

 

Directed by: Daniel Wolfe

Released: 2012

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Continuing the series of music videos on TSS, a politically expressive film for Irish musician Hozier.

Canty and Thompson artfully use the ‘locked box’ to symbolize both repressed love, secrets and the sacrifices required to maintain the simplest of  human rights in an environment of bigotry. Following the tragic paths and eventual punishment of two young men, we are left wondering as to the ultimate fate of both them and also the family that may have been ill-prepared to cope with such an opposition to cultural norms, yet suffer anyway for the ingrained societal ignorance they passively ignored.

 

My church offers no absolution
She tells me, ‘Worship in the bedroom’
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you

I was born sick,
But I love it
Command me to be well
Amen. Amen. Amen

 

I love the bold use of black and white in capturing both roaring fire and rolling countryside, leveling our views of sub-urbanity and the insidious, compressed violence it contains. Carefully woven in shots of birds and planes show achingly tantalizing shots of freedom for our protagonists, and I defy anyone not to feel a lurching heart at the morally indecisive imagery of the final scene. Courageous work from talented directors and an inspiring musician.

Great write-up of the piece is also here from Mother Jones.

 

Lyrics link

 

 

Directed by: Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson (link)

Released: 2013

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What are we seeing here? I’ve scoured the reviews of Daniel Wolfe’s evocative music video of Paolo Nutini’s Iron Sky and most explain it as repression incarnate, and consequent freedom, an ambiguous statement of freedom against non-specific enemies.

From which we’ll rise over love,
Over hate,
From this iron sky,
That’s fast becoming our minds.
Over fear and into freedom.

Clinically cold poverty in faded pastel hues and images of intense drug dependency serve to show a tightening grip of desperation and pressure experienced in the modern metropolitan landscape. I’m reminded of the prison of the mind, shown in a similar palette of Marshall’s Awakenings. Blood trickles from an alabaster white face, a crucifix necklace draws against a taut neck, a motorized boat carries far-looking passengers. I don’t think this film is expecting definition in the same way the CTA Blue Line ever stops running – it shows life as motion and suffering as normal. Beautiful work.

 

Directed by: Daniel Wolfe

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It’s not often you get to see CGI modelling of this quality done with such a strong conceptual element. In this piece by talented director and artist Robert Mans, we observe an alternate kind of  invasion that places us in a day-in-the-life of a highly-efficient life-seeding robotic organism. The use of imagery in the film of insect-like wings, mandibles and thorns is extremely effective, at times feeling like the trippy sci-fi of The Fountain and other moments smacking of a scary DARPA demonstration video. I wish more mainstream sci-fi films were this inventive and thought-provoking.

Directed by: Robert Mans (link)

Released: 2014

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Another timelapse, yes, but this one is inventive and playful, using features not seen in most lapse such as narrative and pacing, often times I’m reminded of lungs breathing in and out, expansion and contraction.

Directed by: Roy Two Thousand

Released: 2013

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Routine, restarts, repetition, ritual. Important or fatuous? Left or right? Two steps forward or trip and fall? Extreme or moderation?

“He was not alone in being alone.”

This film finds success in its ability to have the viewer tangled in the infinite potential variables (albeit separated by time) revealed in the experiences of ‘the subject’, but also, in the quiet moments, have them question the variables in the landscape of their own life. Deeply philosophical, scientific and almost religious, we follow the dulcet, calm tones of the narrator as he leads us into the reflections of the reflections, the variables within the variables, an exploration of everyday moments as much as a dizzying lurch over a bottomless chasm.

 

Directed by Paul Trillo (link)

Released: 2013